Fonio is rich in nutrients, including fiber, protein, and minerals such as iron and magnesium.
Fonio is highly rich in amino acids and iron. It is also very nutritious for pregnant women and children. It is free of gluten and is a great alternative for gluten-intolerant people, in particular those living with Celiac Disease. Due to its high fiber content, this grain is also recommended for the elderly, and for people suffering from digestive problems. Moreover, because of its insulin secreting properties, Fonio products have found that diabetics are their key customers.
Fonio is richer in calcium, magnesium, zinc and manganese than other grains. This grain also contains high levels of methionine and cystine, amino acids essential to our health which our body cannot produce on its own. Fonio grains can play a vital role in nourishing human health. These nutrients are missing in today's major cereals.
Fonio does not contain any glutamine or gladding proteins which are the constituents of gluten, making this cereal suitable for people with gluten intolerance.
Fonio is the most nutritious of all grains. Not only does this crop deserve much greater recognition, it has a big future. It is one of the world's best-tasting cereals.
Health and Nutritional Value of Fonio Grain
• Highly rich in amino acids and iron, its tiny grains are very nutritious for pregnant women and children.
• The husked grain of fonio contains 8-10 % proteins, 85% carbohydrates, 4% fats and 1% ash.
• Fonio grains are immensely rich in methionine, cystine and other amino acids which play a vital role in nourishing human health. These nutrients are missing in today's major cereals.
• The protein analysis of white fonio in comparison with a whole egg is: 7.3 percent of methionine, 46 percent of lysine, 72% isoleucine, 90-100% of valine, tryptophan, threonine, and phenylalanine, 127% of leucine; 175% of total sulfur; and 189 percent for methionine.
• Furthermore, fonio does not contain any glutenin or gliadin proteins which are the constituents of gluten, making this cereal suitable for people with gluten intolerance.
Fonio benefits for health
1. The fonio grain is great for your cardiovascular system.
“Fonio is a naturally gluten-free grain, plus it’s a whole grain, meaning it has all the parts of the grain intact,” explains Samantha Cassetty, MS, RDN. “Making the switch from refined grains to whole grains, such as fonio, is associated with a lower risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as well as better weight management,” Cassetty says. This is because it’s a good source of fiber—a half-cup serving provides four percent of the daily value, which is more than both millet and sorghum—along with plant-based protein.
2. It helps your skin and hair stay healthy.
Fonio is also rich in iron, zinc, B vitamins, and the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. These amino acids are responsible for the growth and repair of body tissues, skin elasticity, hair and nail health, and protein synthesis.
3. It boosts your sleep and your gut microbiome.
In addition, Cassetty notes that fonio supplies meaningful levels of magnesium, which is a nutrient known to benefit your sleep cycle and something many Americans are deficient in. “It’s a strong source of gut-boosting antioxidants, too,” she adds. “Particularly a class of antioxidants known as phenols that feed your gut microbes.”
4. Fonio can help keep blood sugars stable.
“And because the fonio grain is a complex carbohydrate—meaning it is digested more slowly than sugars or refined grains—it can help sustain the body with energy throughout the day,” notes Thiam. “It is low-glycemic, meaning is fonio a good alternative to white rice, pasta, or couscous for those watching their blood sugar levels, like diabetics.”
5. It’s a good source of essential amino acids for those eating plant-based.
“For people who are strictly eating plant proteins, fonio can help meet the needs for the essential amino acids we need to get through food,” she adds. In fact, fonio can meet up to 10 percent of an adult’s requirements for almost all essential amino acids, the sole exception being lysine.
How to cook fonio
Start by checking out Yolélé, which offers a range of easy-to-cook (and eat) fonio options, including fonio-based Dakar Curry and other forms of fonio pilaf, chips made from the fonio grain, fonio flour, and traditional West African Jollof.